Thu | Dec 8, 2016

To say this is highly suspicious would have been an understatement, says fire chief

Published:Tuesday | March 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Jennifer Edwards, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, once again declaring that she was not to blame for the fire at the Riverton City dump. This, even as fire chief, Errol Mowatt, said the fire was the work of arsonists.

Errol Mowatt, commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, has said, based on investigations thus far, it is certain that the fire at the Riverton City dump that started last Wednesday could be the work of arsonists.

"To say this is highly suspicious would have been an understatement," he told journalists at a press briefing yesterday at the Office of the Prime Minister.

"We are very experienced in fire behaviour and fire spread. Given the fact that this fire started sometime Wednesday afternoon and by Saturday morning the entire dump was fully ablaze, normal fire strength, regardless of wind strength, wind direction, could not by itself spread the fire that rapidly," the fire chief declared.

Mowatt added, "We are not able to identify any individual, who might have been involved, but we are confident that given our experience and understanding of fire development and fire spread, there must have been some human element that would have caused the entire dump to be on fire in such a quick time."

In the meantime, Jennifer Edwards, head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, has again rejected claims that she is to be blamed for recurring fires that occur at the site.

'I do not accept that I am incompetent or out of my reach. I accept the fact that I am managing a disposal site that is 55 years old, that needs a lot of resources to bring it to a certain standard. However, those resources have not been forthcoming due to challenges," she told journalists

"I believe that we have done exceptionally well in keeping even the regular garbage collection going to the site and disposing of it in the way that we have been able to do and other initiatives that we have taken. If it weren't for some of those creative mechanisms, I believe there could have been greater danger," she declared.

She also noted that her agency was in constant dialogue with the government to increase the $75 million budget that they received, adding that a public education campaign was needed to educate persons on the consequences of their action.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com